The Expert Guide  

By Shahu Sardar*

Hey fish geeks… Hope you all are doing well!

Almost all hobbyists pay great attention and pour a lot of efforts in setting up their tank and getting the right water parameters. We set the tank with the right equipments, dechlorinate water, enable proper filtration, and set the right temperature… But what we neglect is choosing the right, healthy, good quality fishes for our tanks. 

The fish maybe already sick due to improper maintenance, it may be stressed, or you got the wrong species that don’t go along with the fishes you already have, many things can go wrong while buying new fishes, which will just result in dissatisfaction. 

So we are going to discuss all the factors you need to keep in mind while buying a new fish. And if you are confused about why your new fishes are continuously dying even when the parameters are right then this article is surely going to help you.

Decide Your Fish. 

Decide which fish species you wish to have in your aquarium. Unless you are a dedicated aquarium hobbyist, your fish should be easy to care for, not too demanding, and less-aggressive.

Among 30,000 different ornamental fishes available, you can choose the fish species taking into consideration your tank size, your tank setup, aggressiveness of the species, and its general tank needs (average temperature, pH).

It also sometimes depends upon the fish you already have with you – check if the new species go along with the fish you already have and if their general needs are same.

Find The Right Pet Store. 

In last 2 decades, the aquarium business has grown exponentially and this resulted in opening of numerous pet shops all around. But this lead to a drop in the quality of service! So choosing a shop that houses great variety and healthy live stock is important.

So Here’s What To Expect From A Perfect Shop. 

–  The shop premises should be clean.

– The tanks should have clear water. In case you find that in most of the tanks water is yellowish or cloudy, it indicates dirty and unhealthy water conditions. So the fish in their tanks will also be unhealthy and sick.

–  Fishes in the tank should be continuously swimming, look healthy, active, have bright colours, and without any physical injuries. If you notice that 60–70% fishes are not active or have dull colours, it means that those are sick and not well cared.

– The shopkeeper should be knowledgeable about the fishes he/she is selling. They should have basic knowledge like names of the species, their compatibility, life span, and feeding instructions.

For people living in Pune, I would genuinely recommend to visit ‘Hooked On Fishes’.

The Bloodline 

Now talking about some special cases. In case you are going to buy exotic species like Arowanas, Flowerhorn, Discus, Imported betas – the price will surely be higher than other fishes because of the exotic nature of these fishes. But when you are paying in thousands, being sure of the quality is very important.

Make sure your fish is sourced from certified breeders and are assured for a good bloodline. Bloodline is the set of that fish’s ancestors and obviously, if the ancestors were healthy and of high quality then surely the off spring would have the same desired traits. For fishes like Arowanas and Flowerhorns, it’s easy to get to know about the bloodline and you can ask for the grading certificate too. But for species like Dumbo guppies or full-moon bettas, you should always be careful.

Choose Your Fish. 

Once you think you are in the right shop and fishes are healthy, it’s time to select the fish.

It means choosing the most healthy and happy fishes amongst all. Try choosing the most active and bright coloured fish pair according to the points mentioned above.

Make sure that the shopkeeper gives you the fish that you choose. 

After Purchase – Assimilation. 

So once you buy your fishes, don’t just toss them in the tank.

Bring them home as early as possible and handle the bag carefully to avoid stress. Fishes that had already been sick or stressed can die just because of improper handling!

Once you reach home put the fish bag in your tank for 15–20 mins – this helps them to get accustomed to the water temperature of your tank. Also, this helps them to slowly get introduced to the new environment. Remember to only put the fish and not the water in the bag.

Don’t panic if you see the new fish getting somewhat less active or breathing heavily. This is just because of the transition of tanks. Also, they will not eat for the first day. But continued lethargic behaviour indicates sickness, so be careful! 

So this was how to buy a perfect aquarium fish. Hope you enjoyed reading this article and it helped you!

*Author is one of the youngest Fish keeping hobbyists and enthusiasts from Pune, Maharashtra. He has been in this hobby from the age of 10 and has really learnt a lot about freshwater fish keeping. He also runs his own fish keeping blog named AquaNation (, where you can find all fish tank maintenance related articles. Also, soon he is going to start a You Tube channel of his own.

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